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Police: 2nd disabled victim talking in L.A. sexual assault probe

By the CNN Wire Staff
Police began searching for four suspects after receiving a video from an anonymous tipster.
Police began searching for four suspects after receiving a video from an anonymous tipster.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A second disabled woman tells L.A. County detectives she was sexually assaulted
  • Based on videos provided to them, authorities say at least 10 women were assaulted
  • One of up to 8 suspects is behind bars and another was arrested and released
  • The alleged sexual assaults targeted disabled women between 2007 and 2009
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Los Angeles (CNN) -- The second of ten or more severely disabled victims whose sexual assaults were captured on videotape has come forward -- a development the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is touting as progress in their burgeoning probe of what they say were years-long assaults of defenseless women.

An anonymous informant last March gave police over 100 hours of video that showed eight or more men sexually assaulting at least ten women, the sheriff's department said in a statement.

Investigators found one of the alleged victims, a 25-year-old woman, on Monday. That woman said Ernie Lloyd, 27 -- who was arrested Saturday and charged with rape of a person with disabilities after he "implicated himself," according to authorities -- had sexually assaulted her.

Lloyd was released from custody on Thursday, the sheriff's department said Friday in a press release. On that same day, a second woman, 27, who had been tracking the story in the news media approached investigators to tell them that she, too, had been assaulted.

That woman, who like the first woman to come forward has a physical disability that renders her defenseless, told sheriff's detectives that a suspect named Bert Hicks sexually assaulted her multiple times when she lived in a residence that he operated.

Hicks is in a Tehachapi, California, state prison after being convicted for fiduciary crimes, abuse and sexual assault against the first victim in a Los Angeles residential care facility. He is due to get out of prison in 2012, the sheriff's department said.

The first victim said Hicks, 41, had taken her to an unknown place that authorities earlier said was Las Vegas and married her, investigators said. Hicks then brought her back to the care home, where she was allegedly sexually assaulted by Lloyd and repeatedly sexually assaulted by Hicks, authorities said.

Investigators haven't determined whether Hicks' crimes are the same ones depicted on 100 hours of video that a tipster mailed to authorities last March, detectives said.

The first victim also alleged that she had been sexually assaulted a few years ago by Lloyd at a care facility where they both previously lived as residents, authorities said.

Neither woman's identity is being released, nor are the names of the sites at which they were allegedly assaulted. Both women are at other residential care facilities in California, according to the sheriff's department, and helping authorities track down other victims.

"They live in fear that they will again be assaulted by the suspects," the press release said.

Early Friday, sheriff's detectives served search warrants early Friday at three facilities in western Los Angeles County that had served as residences for, among others, disabled people, the department said in a press release.

The department did not name the exact locations, saying they "have nothing to do with this case." But it did say that one of the residences is where both victims who have come forward say they were sexually assaulted.

The alleged incidents took place between 2007 and 2009, and the probe picked up steam after the sheriff's department asked for the public's help last Thursday. Since then, they have received scores of tips.

"All the sheriff's detectives investigating these cases would like to thank the community for the outpouring of support for the women who have been victimized, and for the meaningful leads provided," Sgt. Dan Scott said. "These leads continue to help up make rapid advances in this difficult case."

Authorities are asking for the public's help in identifying the other suspects, including two of whom they have posted photos. Those with information are encouraged to call 800-222-TIPS.

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